June 2016
Youth Matters

FFA Sentinel: A Glimpse of the Past

Beginning with the Smiths-Hughes Vocational Education Act of 1917 and the formation of the Future Farmers of America nationally in 1928, FFA has had a long-standing tradition of being the country’s premier youth leadership and stewardship organization. Sometimes, however, one must stop and look back to regain focus on the future. To understand where we are going, we must look to those who have gone before us and to those who have built the traditions for which we hold an inborn fondness.

As you read through this article, my hope is that you think fondly on the memories of your time in FFA or as a youngster on the family farm. If you are a current FFA member, my hope is that you enjoy looking back in time and you ask your parents, grandparents or maybe great-grandparents about what it was like when they were your age.

  FFA members tour a greenhouse in May 1952. (Credit: All photos from FFA’s archives)

For many years, especially in the first 40 years of the Alabama FFA Association, chapter reporters would send in tidbits on the happenings of the local chapters. We continue that tradition today via articles such as this. We also have social media and several other publications both online and in hard copy where FFA members can share the great things their chapters are participating in.

Come with me, if you will, on a journey through time, back to the goings-on of Alabama FFA chapters of yesteryear. Some of these chapters still remain active today with similar projects. Below are a few of the chapter reports as printed in the April-May 1952 issue of the AlabamaFutureFarmer magazine.

Albertville – Members made two radio transcriptions that were presented on the local station WAVU, the chapter has 20 boys feeding out 108 hogs and one member was presented the 100 Bushel Corn Club certificate.

Ashville – Hosted the FFA tournament, has six new members, gave an assembly program, initiated 17 Green Hands, rebuilding shop tables, growing out 250 broilers in the basement of the vocational agriculture building, and participated in and won second place in the county public speaking contest.

Baker Hill – Bought a pig to feed out on lunchroom scraps and corn donated by members to finance the chapter, entered the Duroc Picture Judging contest, planted pine trees on the school campus, held a county speaking contest, put a FFA bulletin board in the main school building during FFA Week, 18 members ordered and received official FFA ties, 13 members put in orders for 35,000 bicolor lespedeza seedlings, and the chapter entered ProgressiveFarmer and FarmandRanch magazines subscription drives with three newspaper articles published.

Belgreen – Purchased new shop equipment, initiation is planned for new members, had one member accepted into the 100 Bushel Corn Club, dairy judging teams have begun visiting farms throughout the county, initiated 11 Green Hands, electing FFA Sweetheart, Father-Son-Mother-Daughter Barbecue planned and has five new members.

Citronelle – Elected and honored FFA Sweetheart, increased membership by six, held public speaking contest for the chapter, making plans for a joint FFA-FHA oyster supper, bought two registered Duroc gilts to start Pig Chain, ordered 14,000 bicolor lespedeza seedlings, and entered the Mobile County FFA Public Speaking and Quartet contests to be held in February – quartet won first place and put on an assembly program for the high school.

Crossville – Ordered and received rat poison, ordered 15,000 quail feed plants, organized a quartet, preparing speeches for public speaking contest, ordered one FFA jacket, ordered Green Hand pins, feeding hogs lunchroom scraps, ordered and received 9,000 pine seedlings, and bought five more pigs to top out.

Danville – Every member of a vocational agriculture class was made a FFA member – initiated 21 new members – and fed out pigs from lunchroom scraps to pay for a bus.

Bear Creek FFA members exhibit their registered hogs circa 1951.  

Douglas – Plan to enter 50 hogs in Sand Mountain Hog Show, received royalty for distributing FFA calendars, attended county meeting, entered county public speaking and quartet contests, and put on a radio program and making plans for another one.

Five Points – Held an FFA ice cream social and annual FFA rabbit hunt, held class eliminations and chapter finals of FFA speaking contest, organized a quartet, won Chambers County Speaking and Quartet contests, and set out 22,000 bicolor lespedeza seedlings.

Flomaton – Started a rat control program, held a chapter public speaking elimination, elected FFA Sweetheart, published two issues of Korny Kob, and ordered 39,000 bicolor lespedeza plants and 13,500 pine seedlings.

Geraldine – Sold hogs and bought pigs, made a cooperative fruit tree order, bought corn seed cooperatively and ordered rat poison cooperatively.

Gorgas – Plan to buy a camera, planting bicolor lespedeza seedlings, built 30 table lamps in shop and planning a joint banquet with FHA.

Grant – Erected chapter signs; received official FFA calendars sponsored by Roebuck Tractor Company in Albertville; president, who is also county president, went to Birmingham; chapter put on two radio programs during National FFA Week; have 32 new pigs on the school farm; called special meeting and initiated four new members; and distributed 50 pounds of rat poison.

Hazel Green – Built shop and classroom tables and new type wall lockers for the shop, held FFA Sweetheart contest, Pig Chain increased to seven pigs, and sold candy and cushions at basketball games.

Headland – A member won Henry County Public Speaking contest and represented Henry County in trip to Birmingham, quartet automatic winner of county contest and achievement day to be held in Headland.

Isabella – Forty-four members entered public speaking contest, bought new tools for shop, ordering fruit trees cooperatively, two pigs in Pig Chain farrowed seven pigs each, and making plans to enter dairy, beef and hog judging contests.

Jackson – Held public speaking contest, repainted part of a classroom, ordered rat poison, all classes reviewed and took test on "Know Your FFA," and making plans for district contests.

Livingston – Held chapter public speaking contest with 22 members participating, set out 4,000 pine seedlings, put on assembly program, members are working on supervised farming programs and made $62 operating FFA store.

Lyeffion – Forty-three members participated in chapter public speaking contest, started pruning shrubbery around the agriculture building, chapter received 23,500 pine and cedar seedlings, and built hog pen.

McAdory – Set out 7,000 seedlings, quartet practicing, held chapter speaking contest, distributed FFA calendars to members, 47 members with improved home gardens, 12 members putting out bicolor lespedeza, elected Sweetheart and having beef judging team practice.

Maplesville – Initiated 15 Green Hands; 14 pigs farrowed this month; added two registered Duroc gilts to Pig Chain; and have 42 boys carrying 99 productive projects, 69 improvement projects and 178 supplementary projects.

New Brockton – Members ordered and planted 150 fruit trees, building tables in shop, sponsoring the LeFeure Trio with little Troy Lumpkin and members planted 4,000 pine seedlings.

New Hope – Elected FFA Sweetheart, placed FFA road signs at both entrances to town, organized county FFA, selling chances on a Yorkshire pig coming from the FFA Yorkshire Pig Chain and planning rat killing campaign.

Oakman – Held two meetings, held public speaking and quartet contests, appointed membership drive committee, Jr. III boys worked on shop projects, and organized dairy and beef judging teams.

Orrville – Elected chapter Sweetheart, boys put in a sidewalk from school building to new vocational building, flagpole and flag installed out front of the main school building, and a member won the county speaking contest.

Paint Rock Valley – Held two officer meetings, now feeding a total 28 hogs for the market, elected Queen to enter the Tri-State contest in Chattanooga and elected treasurer for county organization.

  FFA members exhibit the Champion and Reserve Champion at the 1952 Huntsville Fat Stock Show.

Phil Campbell – Set out 25,000 pine seedlings; held two meetings; attended Hereford sale; planning to enter beef, dairy and hog judging, and radio and string band contests; and made $149.35 on county tournament.

Pine Apple – Rat and mouse killing campaign underway, purebred gilt has been given to the chapter by Sears-Roebuck Foundation, erected sign for church as community project, putting up FFA welcome signs and won county quartet contest.

Ramer – Held chapter speaking contest, conducted assembly program and sanitation program, ordered fruit trees cooperatively and made plans for school nursery.

Reform – Added two new books to vocational agriculture’s library, observed National FFA Week, held elimination public speaking contest, seven members set out 7,000 pine seedlings, earned $24.50 in Ike and Mike contest, and cleared $40 on ad sales.

Rehobeth – Sold and delivered 50 satsuma trees, planning Father-Son-Mother-Daughter Banquet, string band played for party at Wicksburg, planted 7,500 pine and cedar seedlings, and all members entered public speaking contest.

Spring Garden – Sold 100 pounds of rat poison and successfully carried on a rat campaign, played four basketball games, planned Father-Son-Mother-Daughter Banquet, elected chapter Farmer and set out 15,000 bicolor lespedeza plants.

Siluria – Officers for year elected, elected FFA Queen, planning rat control program, and members have started a total of 32 home vegetable gardens and seven have orchards for this year.

Tanner – Held chapter speaking contest, awarded gilt to public speaking winner, placed four gilts with members from Pig Chain, planning banquet, gave radio programs during National FFA Week and selling magazines.

Town Creek – Having welcome signs painted and will erect them soon, building mailbox posts according to FFA plans, planning to enter dairy and hog judging contests, purchased one official FFA jacket; planning to buy 11 Hereford heifers, chapter president to attend meeting in Birmingham, built two self-feeders and elected chapter Sweetheart.

Uriah – Planted 4,000 pine seedlings, ordered 42,000 bicolor lespedeza seedlings, attended county FFA meeting, participated in local campus improvement program and sold three top pigs.

Vina – Bought two cedar chests to sell to fund the Father-Son-Mother-Daughter Banquet, bought electric welder for department and organized string band.

Vincent – All members participated in speech contest, planning wiener-roast party, have erected road signs and planning on having a FFA booth at the State Fair.

West Point – Plan to enter two state sponsored contests, had a skating party, and initiated 16 Green Hands and 16 chapter Farmers.

Wetumpka – Received and displayed official banner, plan chapel program for FFA Week, showed film on rat control, displayed forest fire exhibit in town and on bulletin board, elected four honorary members and president attended meeting in Birmingham.

White Plains – Radio program and articles in paper during National FFA Week, building cabinets and shelves for Home Economics’ kitchen, bought new chapter banner for classroom and a member was elected Star Chapter Farmer.

Woodland – Six No. 1 hogs ready to sell from feeding project, planning to set shrubs around vocational ag building and making shop items to be given away at evening school meetings.

Remembering what it was like to farm and ranch and to have the desire to pass that knowledge on to the next generation is another tradition of FFA. For all of you reading this and thinking about the past, thank you for your part in this inspiring task we call FFA. As we look to the horizon, toward the rising sun and new era in agriculture, we see FFA as a bright spot for American agriculture.

A special thank-you to Philip Paramore, Alabama FFA Executive Secretary, for compiling the information from the 1952 Alabama Future Farmer publication featured in this article.

James Chamness is an education specialist in Agriscience Education with the Alabama Department of Education.